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Euro 2024: Georgia's Sagnol angrily rejects talk of political interference

The national team's first major tournament appearance has created a buoyant mood in Georgia, where there have been huge protests against a controversial law requiring certain organisations to register as "agents of foreign influence".
Last Updated : 25 June 2024, 14:53 IST

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Gelsenkirchen: Georgia coach Willy Sagnol said only he selects the national side, responding angrily when asked whether forward Budu Zivzivadze's playing time at Euro 2024 had been limited because of his reported criticism of a new law on foreign agents.

The national team's first major tournament appearance has created a buoyant mood in Georgia, where there have been huge protests against a controversial law requiring certain organisations to register as "agents of foreign influence".

Georgia play already-qualified Portugal in their final group game on Wednesday, when victory would secure a place in the last 16. Zivzivadze has played only six minutes at Euro 2024.

"I want to take proper decisions based only on football fact," Frenchman Sagnol told reporters on Tuesday.

"I can't accept that any longer – I'm a football coach, nothing else. Who plays and who doesn't play, it is my entire decision, that's it," he added.

Sagnol believes his side are unfortunate to have only one point from their performances in the first two matches.

"If, before the competition, we would have been told maybe on your third match you will still have the possibility to qualify, I think we would all have signed these documents immediately," Sagnol said.

Georgia's talisman Khvicha Kvaratskhelia thinks his side might be able to take advantage of the fact Portugal were guaranteed to finish top of Group F.

"Of course, it will be a very tough game," he said. "But psychologically and motivation-wise, we are more motivated than Portugal because Portugal is already through to the round of 16."

Kvaratskhelia is hoping to fulfill a childhood dream of playing against Cristiano Ronaldo, but was adamant Georgia would not be over-awed.

"It doesn't really matter, the names or surname of football players," he said. "We are there to win and this is what we have demonstrated versus the Czech Republic and Turkey."

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Published 25 June 2024, 14:53 IST

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